There are plenty of athletes past and present that played both college football and basketball. But how many of them got to brag about playing in both March Madness and in the NFL. Not a lot actually. Some of these guys were absolute studs in college basketball but they weren’t good enough to make it into the NBA. So these guys gave football a shot and well it did them pretty well. Brothers basketball was fun and all but football was always number one.
Number Ten Jordan Cameron: the former 6 foot 5 NFL tight end played briefly for the USC Trojans in the 2008 and 9 seasons it used primarily as a backup Cameron only played in three games averaging one point three minutes per contest. Cameron Trojans were eliminated by Michigan State in the first round of the 2009 March Madness tournament by a score of seventy-four to sixty-nine. Gregory Cameron would play ball with wide receiver and tight end for U.S. his football team. His stats weren’t exactly mindblowing but Cameron was one of the top prospects at the NFL combine the Cleveland Browns selected Cameron with the one hundred and second pick in the 2011 draft. Cameron was named to the 2013 Pro Bowl after recording 80 receptions for nine hundred and seventeen yards and seven touchdowns. Unfortunately, concussions took a toll on Cameron and he retired at the age of 28 after the 2016 season. But not too many people go from March Madness to the Pro Bowl and Cameron will always have that cool tale to tell.
Number nine Ronald Currie: former NFL wideout Ronald Currie played for the North Carolina Tar Heel in the 1998 99 and 2000 and 2001 seasons. He saw limited time in his first season of college hoops averaging two point eight points per contest in 26 games. The Tar Heels were eliminated by Weber State in the round of 64 dropping a close seventy-six to seventy-four decision. Curry became a starting guard in his final year of college basketball averaging five point five points four point three assists and three-point four rebounds per game. North Carolina was eliminated by Penn State in the second round however Currie was also North Carolina’s quarterback from 1998 to 2001 where he totaled four thousand nine hundred eighty-seven yards and 28 touchdowns. He was drafted with the two hundred thirty Fitz picked by the Oakland Raiders and do those two. But Curry would actually make the switch to wide receiver in seven seasons with the Raiders Curry caught one hundred and ninety-three passes for two thousand three hundred forty-seven yards and 13 touchdowns. He was on the Raiders team that reached Super Bowl 37 where they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Number eight Mo Alie-Cox: the VCU product actually didn’t play a single minute of College Football Pro Bowl alley Cox. The real passion and dream was the game of basketball. He played four seasons at VCU as a forward appearing in a total of one hundred and forty-two games through his college years he averages seven point seven points one point eight blocks and four point seven rebounds per game. Ali Cox led the Rams to a berth in the tournament in 2014 but Stephen F. Austin eliminated them in the round of 64. Two years later Ali Cox and the Rams reached the round of 32. But they were eliminated by number two seed Oklahoma and in 2017 the Rams were eliminated by St. Mary’s in the round of 64. COX tenure at VCU was quite extraordinary. He also led the school to its first Atlantic 10 title and left VCU as the all-time leader in shooting percentage. The Indianapolis Colts signed Allie Cox in the 2017 offseason but he didn’t see any action until the 2018 campaign that year Allie Cox caught seven passes for one hundred thirty-three yards and two touchdowns.
Number seven Rico gathers: the Dallas Cowboys tight end played four years of basketball at Baylor where he excelled as a six foot eight forward gathers was named to the first team all-Big 12 and Big 12 all defensive team in 2015 gathers would average fifteen point five points and one point five steals and a whopping fourteen point five rebounds per game over his four seasons at Baylor. He was the first player in the bear’s history to register 1000 points and 1000 rebounds in 2014 the sixth-seeded bears reached the Sweet Sixteen before losing to the second-seeded Wisconsin Badgers. A year later Bailey’s run came to an end via elimination by Georgia State in the round of 64 ending gathers final year of college. The Bears fell to the Yale Bulldogs in the round of 64 and so ended gathers wonderful four year tenure at Baylor gathers hadn’t played football since he was 13 but the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the sixth round two hundred seventeen overall in the 2016 NFL draft gathers finally saw some playing time in 2018 and he got three passes for forty-five yards
Number Six Julius Thomas: the Portland State product was actually a bigger star in college basketball than football the 6 foot 5 Thomas played four seasons of basketball. Thomas best season was two thousand nine to 10 when he averaged ten point eight points and five-point nine rebounds per game. Thomas guided Portland State to a March Madness appearance in 2008 and 2009 and the former year his team fell to the top seed Kansas Jayhawks in the Midwest first round in 2009 the Vikings were eliminated by number for Examiner in the east first round. Thomas was drafted in the fourth round one hundred and twenty-ninth overall by the Denver Broncos in 2011. He became a prime weapon of Peyton Manning’s for two seasons earning Pro Bowl selections in 2013 14. Thomas was also part of the Broncos record-breaking offense in 2013 catching sixty-five passes for seven hundred eighty-eight yards and twelve touchdowns. Thomas would spend two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and played the 2017 campaign for the Miami Dolphins before retiring. Thomas has since announced his plans to study psychology specifically CTE.
Number five Donovan McNabb: Unlike many of the other guys on this list, Donovan McNabb was always born to play football. He was a star quarterback at Syracuse and though he gave basketball a shot for two seasons it wasn’t his top sport. McNabb played for Syracuse in 1995 and 96 season but he only appeared in five games and saw little playing time. He went all the way to the national championship final before losing to the Kentucky Wildcats the next year. McNabb and Syracuse finished with a record of 19 and 13. They fell to Florida in the first round in 1997. McNabb was named to six pro bowls throughout his NFL career and led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl 39 appearance McNabb finished with thirty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-six yards and two hundred thirty-four touchdown passes. We’d say he did pretty well as a quarterback
number four Jimmy Graham: the Pro Bowl tight end only played one season of college football but four seasons of hoops for the Miami Hurricanes. Graham played forward and averaged four point two points and four point two rebounds per game during his four years of college basketball. He wasn’t necessarily a star but Graham’s hurricanes saw plenty of overall success during his time there. They reached an 18. quarterfinals in 2006 and made it to the ante double the second round two years later in Graham’s final year Miami posted a 19 and 13 overall record. But they only made the NYT second round. Graham’s monster a six foot eight frame and superb athleticism was enough to entice the New Orleans Saints and they drafted him with a 90 fifth pick in 2010 after Rob Gronkowski. Graham has been arguably the NFL best tight end of the past decade. His 16 touchdown receptions in 2013 led the NFL. Just imagine how much greater Graham would be if he never left the Saints. Nonetheless, it’s been quite a journey for Graham. From college basketball and March Madness participant to five-time Pro Bowl tight end, you don’t see that happen very often.
Number three Julius Peppers: when you stand at six foot seven and two hundred ninety-five pounds you’re automatically in great shape to dominate at multiple sports. Such was the case with Pash rushing stud Julius Peppers who was a monster athlete for North Carolina and basketball and football. Peppers played two seasons of basketball for the Tar Heels. He averaged five point seven points and three point seven rebounds per game over his two years. Peppers helped North Carolina reach the Final Four. The journey was highlighted by a 60 to 53 victory over number one seeded Stanford in that game. Peppers contributed six points three rebounds one block and two steals. He was a force all over. Unfortunately, the big run came to an end when the Tar Heels lost in the semifinals to Florida by a score of seventy-one to fifty-nine. Peppers, however, was simply a better football player so he stuck with it and the rest is history. Peppers earned nine Pro Bowl selections and was named 2002 defensive rookie of the year. He led the Carolina Panthers to a surprise Super Bowl 38 appearance as well peppers one hundred and fifty-nine point five career sacks placed him fourth all-time only by Bert Smith. Reggie White and Kevin Green. That is a career.
Number two Antonio Gates: Hard to believe but the future Pro Football Hall of Famer didn’t play any college football. The 6 foot 4 athletic freak instead played three seasons of college hoops as a forward. Gates spent the 1999 and 2000 season at Eastern Michigan where he averaged ten point two points one point three assists and seven point four rebounds per game. To a dead move over to Kent State where he played two more seasons of college basketball over those two years. Gates would average an impressive eighteen point one points three point three assists and seven point nine rebounds per game in his first year at Kent State. Gates led the Golden Flashes to the Elite Eight where he ultimately fell to fifth-seeded Indiana eighty-one to sixty-nine. After college basketball. Gates was told he wouldn’t make it to the NBA. The San Diego Chargers took a chance and sign gates in 2003. A Pro Bowl selections. Nine hundred and fifty-five receptions eleven thousand eight hundred and forty-one receiving yards and one hundred and sixteen touchdown receptions later. Oh my God, this guy is totally a Hall of Famer who needs college football to make it to the NFL anyway.
Number one Tony Gonzalez: like a handful of NFL top tight ends to come around. Over the last 20 years, Tony Gonzalez starred in both basketball and football. He had the supreme athleticism and Bill to do both. Ultimately Gonzalez would opt to pursue a career on the gridiron. We’d say it turned out pretty well for him. Gonzalez played three seasons of hoops in California. He’s 6 foot 6 forward averaged six points four points and four point three rebounds per game during his days in college. Gonzalez was also part of California’s run to the Sweet 16 in 1997. His final season of college California took down Princeton in the first round then followed up with a seven-point victory over Villanova. But the special run came to an end when they fell to North Carolina in the regional semifinals. Gonzalez was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 1997 NFL draft.
I mean all he did in the NFL was earn 14 Pro Bowl selections and lock down a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame widely regarded as the best tight end ever. Gonzalez retired as an all-time leader. And most high-end categories though some of those records have since been broken. But still, he did it. So let’s dope. We’d say his choice of taking up football over basketball turned out just fine.